Tags: Parenting, Special Needs
Special Needs Awareness
10 Ways to Help Improve Social Skills in Kids on the Autism Spectrum
August 01, 2011Following are suggestions area experts have stated as appropriate ways to help kids improve their social skills.
Teach your child how to ask for things, answer questions, follow directions. These are core elements of language and the foundation of social skills.
Prioritize peer-to-peer interactions. Small playdates involving two, three or four children will expose your child with autism to appropriate social behavior and allow him or her to learn and practice social skills in a safe environment.
Practice social skills at home. At home you and your child's siblings can do things like play turn-taking games and practice waiting in line.
Connect with a behavior analyst. If you can afford to have your child work with a certified behavior analyst, you both will learn ways to help him gain appropriate social skills.
Use social stories to help prepare your child for upcoming events and happenings. You can help your child alleviate some anxiety about approaching social situations by reading social stories with them.
Write social skills goals into the IEP and updated every year. Social goals should be written into your child's individualized education plan (IEP) and implemented throughout their school day including in the classroom, at lunch, even recess.
Enlist peer buddies or mentors. Peer buddies at school can show your child how to do things like play hopscotch at recess and serve as a friendly resource for various matters.
Talk specifically about appropriate words to use or not to use in specific situations. Let your child know what may or may not be appropriate to say when visiting a friend in the hospital, going to a birthday party, or entering into any social interaction.
Keep a detailed calendar of upcoming events so your child knows what to expect each day. Your child with autism doesn't need social surprises. Knowing what is on his dance card will give him a sense of control and provide opportunity to focus on appropriate social behavior.
As social rules evolve, so should your child's social skills. What is expected of a 6-year-old differs from what will be expected of them in their teens.
Carrie Bishop is a freelance writer and mother of two young sons whose daily antics inspire her work and life. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.